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Column: Where were you when ...
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, Georgian Alan Jackson wrote a song called “Where Were You (when the world stopped turning).”

It is not a patriotic song, but rather a remembrance of the day that the U.S. was attacked.

My friend, Mark Green, and I wrote a song that is a prayer for America in the time of the current pandemic. It is not a patriotic song, either. It is a song that asks God to heal our land and return us to the way we were.

The last major pandemic in the U.S. was in 1918. Anyone who has active memories of it, would be over 100 and we don’t have many of those.

Many recall when the stock market crashed in 1929 marking the start of the Great Depression. My late mother was born in 1926 and she said they were so poor that they didn’t notice any difference.

There are still those among us who remember the Sunday when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Perhaps the most notable memory was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s war speech to Congress the next day. He called the event “a day that will live in infamy.”  

There are those who may remember the day that a loved one went off to war. Sometimes, that was preceded by a hastily arranged wedding. Still, there are those who recall the days when victory was declared, first against Hitler and his supporters in Europe, secondly against the Japanese.

Many today have memories of where they were when they learned of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. I remember waking up one morning in June and finding that “Cartoon Carnival” on TV had been pre-empted for coverage of Robert Kennedy’s shooting and subsequent death.

The year 1968 may be one of the most memorable years, prior to the current one. In addition to the death of King and Bobby Kennedy, there were riots on race and against the Vietnam War. The Democratic Convention in Chicago was a scene of unrest and rioting.

There was some anticipation that 1968 would be eventful, and it became likely when President Johnson announced he would not seek another term as president.

There was some anticipation that this year would be interesting because of the presidential election, a scheduled U.S. Senate election and a surprise second Senate race when Sen. Johnny Isakson announced he would resign at the end of last year.

But I don’t think anyone in their wildest imagination could envision the worldwide spread of COVID-19. For a time, we became prisoners in our own homes as we locked ourselves away in quarantine. We dealt with shortages of paper towels, toilet paper and various disinfectants. By the way, whatever happened to all that toilet paper? 

Some people have become germaphobes and are afraid to touch anything. Others take the attitude of, ‘if I get the coronavirus, I’ll just deal with it.’ Sadly, I have lost about half a dozen people I knew well who died in the pandemic.

The people who lived through the flu pandemic, the depression, the various wars and other memorable events were glad when they were over. I am so looking forward to returning to something that resembles normal.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Weekend Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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